Why I don’t belong in a kitchen.

Although my guilty pleasure is watching mukbangs on Youtube or bingeing on the Food Network channel on a Saturday night, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that I cannot cook. The only times you’ll find me in the kitchen is raiding the fridge in the middle of the night on the hunt for sapid snacks.

According to Lorraine Pascale, “anything that goes in the oven is baking”, so with that being said, I took on the challenge of my first ever bake. No, not just some basic oven lasagne- I mean a real bake, a cake.

After a simple google search for the best yet easiest carrot cake recipes, I finally found one which was fit for me even though I just didn’t have a lot of the ingredients on that list and so, I switched things up a little:

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175g light muscavado sugar = 200g brown sugar (I don’t know what muscavado means)

140g grated carrot = an awful lot of hard work

100g raisins = NONE because who enjoys raisins in a cake?

1tsp bicarbonate of soda= 1tsp baking powder (I’m not technical in anyway)

1tsp cinnamon = 2tbs cinnamon to celebrate my Sri Lankan heritage

Everything else remains the same.

As I was doing this, I began to reminisce a song from my childhood. Stephanie from Lazytown sang “You gotta do the cooking by the book, you know you can’t be lazy; never use a messy recipe, the cake will end up crazy”. Well, I do hope Stephanie grew to her senses because adapting a recipe to my own needs DOES NOT make me lazy, and I definitely will not stick to the recipe because I am not a conforming individual and Stephanie should really just get out of my head and stop telling me what to do. Anyway, I digress. 

People often say that baking is easy since you whack everything into a bowl and it’s done. That is easier said than done. My sister peered inside my mixing bowl and said “You’re mixture’s split”. Since I didn’t know what that meant and I’ve done five more laps around the planet than her and have collected ever so much wisdom, I ignored her snarky comment and carried on. Nigella Lawson taught me how to grease my pan and lightly dust it with flour to stop the batter from sticking. So I did, less stylishly and more maddened than Lawson as by this point I realised why it had taken me 18 years to finally have the reason to use an oven. I don’t belong in the kitchen or have any interest in being in one. Long story short; I dusted the finished product in icing sugar (to cover the burnt bits) and presented a bog-standard looking carrot cake to my family.

CONCLUDING THOUGHTS: The perception of women having to “belong in a kitchen” died long ago, though there will always be people hinting about the concept to this day. I truly believe that in order to abolish this, all women must take their own fields of interest and exceed at it by taking full control. It doesn’t take a genius to say that I’m awful at cooking but only a fool will tell me that I am an awful woman because I cannot cook. I wish to exert my energy into passions of mine and stand down from the stereotypes that I have been labelled. 

Turing’s Pardon.

Alan Turing was a code breaker who revolutionised artificial intelligent engineering during the second world war. There were only a small number of people who only knew of him and his work before Benedict Cumberbatch’s portrayal of him in the award winning film, ’The Imitation Game’. Turing was part of a team which set out to break the Enigma Code – a complex set of letters and numbers coded by German scientists which was used send secret messages to German U-boats in the battle of Atlantic during the second world war. U-boats would often disrupt the paths of containment ships which contained vital supplies for Great Britain. By breaking this code, Turing and his team were able to outsmart the U-boats which eventually led the allies to victory and pushed back the war by at least four years. 

In contrast to the victory, Turing’s unfortunate suicide was triggered at first by being found guilty of “gross indecency contrary to Section II of the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1885” on three attempts. Punished with a choice of either imprisonment or chemical castration, Turing was left with no choice but to ingest chemicals to “cure” his homosexuality. The idea was that the castration technique would turn him into a heterosexual by reducing his hormone levels. Turing was found dead in June of 1954 after intentionally eating an apple filled with cyanide. 

Almost 60 years later, in 2013, Turing was given a royal pardon by the queen – this was essentially an apology for the way in which he was brutally treated. This, of course, was supported by many important persons on a global scale. However, it also raised questions and thoughts about the type of small minded society that most Britons lived in. Those in the LGBT+ community often lived by keeping their identity a secret- or like Turing, marry a person of the opposite sex in order to remain ‘normal’ to the rest of society. 

During the war, there were many countries in which being homosexual was criminalised. However, in Germany, the LGBT community were especially segregated and went under the most merciless treatment. Both Great Britain and Germany were damaging communities and punishing homosexuals at extreme measures even though both countries were fighting each other. If both parties believed most truly in the same causes then was the war even that necessary? Additionally, it is a known fact that the person on the throne will pass all the laws. The Queen herself was coronated in 1953, Turing died in 1954 and homosexuality was legalised in 1967. Discarding all the circumstances, would it have been possible the homosexuality bill to be passed earlier, preventing Turing’s death anyway? 

There are many questions still being asked in which getting hold of an answer will merely seem impossible. Although, Turing’s work saved the lives of hundred and thousands of people, it was his identity that let him down in the end and he could not go on to contribute more to science due the simple fact that his sexual preference was not accepted in society. Changing laws does not necessarily change opinions. Everyone living in a small minded society cannot suddenly become more open to new ideas due to a passing of a bill. Yet following authority figures in order to bypass commotion only shows conformity and fear. Turing ignored the stigma placed upon his sexuality and came out honest and clean despite opinions and laws- this being a method we should all adapt. 

Source : The Daily Beast. (2018). The Castration of Alan Turing, Britain’s Code-Breaking WWII Hero. [online] Available at: https://www.thedailybeast.com/the-castration-of-alan-turing-britains-code-breaking-wwii-hero [Accessed 16 Oct. 2018].

In light of world mental health day.

My mental health story. 

NOTE: (trigger warning*) Writing this piece brought back memories that I have hidden for a long time. I tried to make my stories as light as possible hence why it may sound trivial but there is a lot more to it of which I am not yet comfortable to share. I am not diagnosed with any mental disorder and please do not try and diagnose yourself. I try to better my mental state by writing things down or turning them into art like poetry. Please speak do to someone if you are going through a tough time.

My jet black leather-leather-bound journal. I was gifted this when I turned 10 and it didn’t really have a particular use. It’s been a holiday journal, drawing book and now it plays a role as my mental health diary.

Up until the age of 10, I would say that I was a very intelligent and likeable young girl. I was swimming for my local team, played a musical instrument, had lots of friends and was academically striving at school – you could say I was “perfect”, an all-rounder. The earliest memory of me breaking this character down was when all the girls in my class had started to eat a school dinner, leaving me as the only girl with a packed lunch. I was sitting on the grass, a few metres away from a large circle of boys when one shouted out to me ‘nerdy lesbian’. More awful words followed. In all fairness I didn’t know what most of them had meant so I was not bothered. 

The last year of primary school was possibly my worst. Let me give you a scenario: the girls in my class, my ‘friends’, formed a dance group and called themselves the ‘Golden Chicks’. Since I was always around them, I was appointed as their manager. I did everything they asked me to do from filling out their audition forms to spending a long time mixing their music which they could use to perform with. For some reason, it didn’t occur to me as odd when they would have sleepovers or group meetings without me. When I confronted them, the typical response would be “We’ll invite you next time” or “we’ll tell you about the meeting later”. What shattered me the most was when they used their own music to perform at the end of term assembly and had discarded mine completely. Things went from bad to worse when I was the only person in the class not to be invited to a birthday party. She kept telling me that she had forgotten to bring in my invitation and she would be sure bring it the following day. This never happened of course and it truly made me feel lonely at that moment in time. Over time, my personality changed from being bubbly and kind to angry and bitter. I was constantly jealous of everyone else being happy and enjoying their last few weeks of school. I really don’t know what came over me when I started stealing things from the sliding drawers of my classmates and put them in someone else’s drawer when nobody was looking so that they would get into trouble. Thinking about this almost a decade later, I think at first I was unintentionally bullied and isolated by my classmates. My personality before may have come across as cocky and overly passionate. The way I was treated gave me a negative attitude and turned me into a horrible person masking what I felt deep inside; having a constant urge to fit in with the people around me. 

I was accepted into a highly selective grammar school when I was 11. I went back to my old bubbly personality but my new found fear of loneliness still hung onto me. I made friends quickly, who did not judge nor tease me for being a ‘nerd’. There were times when my group of friends would make plans for the future to go to Cambridge university and live together. Then one would say “except for Thanucha obviously no offence”- meaning I was not clever enough. After this my lowest point was when I was 15/16 or so when my close-knit group of friends had cut me off completely and I had just been dumped from a year long relationship. I felt at my loneliest, I had nobody to hang out with during breaks as it was the last year of school and everyone already had their friendship groups. The place I felt safest was in the girls toilets on the far end of the school – where people don’t usually go to. The end cubicle was hidden away behind the door and was completely dark. It also had the best wifi connection so I was sorted for company. For a whole year, every lunchtime I would go to my cubicle, eat my lunch there and come out when the end of lunch bell rang. If I had work to do, librarian would let me work in the store room all because I did not want to be seen alone if front of my ex friends. Sometimes I would see them walking a few paces in front of me in the corridor which automatically made me turn around and walk the long way to my lesson. I started being late to school every morning  simply because then I wouldn’t have to do the daunting job of walking past all four of them to get to my seat in registration. During the holidays, I felt a huge sense of relief that I would no longer have to face anyone. However, I felt more and more depressed everyday. I would not shower for days at a time, there were times when I would no wear my glasses for days in a row so that essentially I would not have to see the world. I also self harmed a lot. Here is a short extract from my diary:

19th December 2015:

“Its nearly Christmas but I’m not excited as I usually am, I haven’t even bought anyone presents because I don’t care. Really, I wish my mind was more at ease, resting in peace…”

I kept my emotions between myself and my diary. I honestly don’t know how I came out of constantly feeling trapped and uneasy. If I knew how, I would say so but I don’t. I tried putting more effort into my schoolwork and fought off negative thoughts. My handwork paid off and I proved my doubters wrong. My mind is more at ease but some situations always make me feel uneasy. Like walking past a big group of people and being horrified at the fact that they might talk or laugh about you when actually most of the time they wouldn’t even notice that you’re even present. I now have a group of friends I can speak to and feel comfortable with. And as for feeling lonely, I have learned to enjoy my own company and forget about trying to impress anyone. 

Different. By Tallulah Stone

Me: an imaginist, a vivid wanderer. You could say perhaps, a narcissist.

I’ve always found myself different from others. Of course we’re all different from each other; unique is the word. But the ones around me, as a collective, are all the same. Same as each other but different from me.

Take my family for example. A wonderful, wonderful group of people; kind, gentle, generous. The adjectives could go on.  But, they are all the same. Doctors, engineers, nurses, teachers, an architect even. Then there are my friends; future doctors, teachers, engineers. Academics they are. A collection of academics. A collection of academics. 

And me? Well I’m a literary aficionado. Academics are all important to run the world, needless to say. But who is there to change minds, to change the way we view each other and to stop the crises of modern day. 

Me. Because I was not destined to fall in with the same crowd of academics. I’m different. Gifted perhaps. Gifted not with the power of words but with a mind that thinks differently. Differently.

Don’t even get me started on success. They want it all. A large house with beautifully furnished interiors and an impressive garden. The fanciest cars, the most luxurious holidays. All this for what? A small click and the picture’s taken and uploaded to the internet. To show off to the world their materialistic success. That’s how they find comfort; through likes and comments from other avatars who are hidden away behind the screens as if they are hypnotised.

1 like = 1 follow.

How wasteful. 

Do they truly believe that sharing an article of extreme poverty will solve the problem? Will watching a documentary on plastics in the ocean suddenly remove all the waste on beaches. If only 1 view meant 1kg of waste removed. You may say that awareness is spread. I’m sure it does but what will one do with the knowledge. Take action or bury the guilt within the depths of their garden?

And me? My success would be when I’m fulfilled. Fulfilled when the world no longer hungry, no longer needs my help. When boys and girls can be noticed as equals. Why isn’t it already equal?

Why do those in foreign continents want to impersonate the west in both colour and lavish lifestyle but not realise that girls and boys belong together.  

The west must take blame for sure. The west that we live in. The west which believes that feminism should even be a word. Why isn’t there a word for male equality?

And to all those who say ‘the future is female.’ No, the future is not female. Yes, women may thrive like we have never before but future is all of us moving forward. The future is all.

And when this is fixed, even if it’s long after my time, I will be successful. That’s what makes me different. 

The things unknown

Inspired by Maya Angelou’s, ‘I know why the caged bird sings’, I decided a write a short story about the backbone of the poem. I was so moved after reading such emotional piece of writing, I decided to research the history and inspiration that went behind writing the piece. The poem itself is about two birds; one caged and the held captive, symbolising slavery during the slave trade in 17th century America. 

The things unknown:

Cautiously she draws the curtains apart and gazes through the cloudy window of her modest room. Out in the fields, the early cotton workers are busily gathering the harvest before the winter sets in and sends every living creature back into dwellings awaiting the return of spring. The squirrels have long packed their granaries and the sun is showing signs of ageing. All along, the busy summer provided the living with growth and the suffering with comfort. But now, it needs a rest and plans a long break.

On her window sill, a bird perched itself half asleep, soaking his wings in the last gasps of the summer rays. Its eyes dreamy and drunk as they contemplate the vastness of the sky that it owns. In the tainted glass, she glimpses her own reflection. A lonely figure, almost invisible, yet trapped and caged between the walls of a room caving in on her. She reminisces about her life as a child growing freely in the homeland of the sun where elephants trumpeted freely across the savannahs along the tall, elegant giraffes. Her peaceful walk to school across a lush nature reserve and the gathering of smiling faces bearing their white teeth at her as she steps through the playground gates. Why did this have to end so abruptly?

The violent journey on the boat across the rough seas ripped her from her roots and planted her in a sour land where hope and opportunity no longer recognised her. Years of serving the rich and powerful have made her veins swell under her skin like rambling ivies clenching onto her, trapping her inside herself. Years of slavery aged her quickly but with her wings clipped and her feet tied, she envies the little bird on her window sill which now has noticed her frozen shadow and fluttered away to join its companions chirping contentedly across the hills far and wide. She tries to open her mouth and call the winged creature back but soon remembers the wings of her voice have long withered and died and vanished with the thousand and one nights she cried herself to sleep.

Speechless and sad, she gazes through her wet eyes out across the empty fields. The workers have turned in for the night and the birds are now roosting in total tranquillity.

How she longs to sprout invisible wings to hoist her on the last, fading rays of the departing sun if only to carry her back to the land of her childhood – to the land of living dreams where once her voice echoed gleefully across the air with other children.

The night has fallen spreading its shadows across the land and painting her walls with a tinge of rich dark blue. The moon emerges from behind the clouds painting each with a silver lining. A feeling of hope wells up inside her, flooding her very heart, soul and mind with blissful exultation.